Climate-health emergency

A dengue patient being treated from inside a mosquito net at Teku hospital, Kathmandu. Photo: MONIKA DEUPALA

An unusually wet monsoon, increased human mobility and climate change are reasons why this year’s dengue outbreak in Nepal has been the worst so far. Already, six people have lost their lives and more than 8,000 are receiving treatment. Over 80,000 have been infected, but control efforts have been sorely lacking.

The newest epidemic to hit Nepal has struck ministers, politicians, businessmen and doctors, drawing attention to  tropical diseases migrating to higher altitudes. Early rains provided ideal breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes that are migrating up the mountains as the earth heats up. 

“Vector insects are moving up the Himalaya as warming increases, and so are the diseases they carry. Climate change is leading to changes in the geographic pattern of diseases,” said Meghnath Dhimal of the Nepal Health Research Council. “We need to adjust to this new reality and be prepared for more frequent outbreaks.”

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Tree-mendous, Peter Gill

It's a jungle out there, Ajaya Dixit

Maria Diuk-Wasser of the Yale School of Public Health confirmed the trend in a recent article in the journal Scientific American: ‘The direct effects of temperature increase are an increase in immature mosquito development, virus development and mosquito biting rates, which increase the contact rates with humans.’

The government has been slow to act, despite being in the habit of blaming everything and anything on climate change. The climate emergency is just the latest crisis to hit Nepal, making all our pre-existing problems worse.

And while mitigation efforts to reduce emissions in Nepal are not going to make a difference globally, given our negligible contribution to atmospheric carbon, switching to renewable energy sources is good for both the economy and ecology.

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Trees, politics and greed, Mukesh Pokharel

Mustn't blame everything on Climate Change, Editorial

Nepal is importing Rs20 billion worth of electricity annually from India to meet generation shortfall. Power from these coal-fired thermal plants in Bihar has doubled the average Nepali’s carbon footprint, and has increased our trade imbalance with India.

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Protecting Kathmandu’s historic roofscape, Anne Feenstra

Tourism, aviation, and carbon, Sanghamitra Subba

Nepal’s petroleum consumption is doubling thanks to LPG use, expansion of the road network and increased vehicle imports. The Nepal-India, cross-border petroleum pipeline inaugurated this week is likely to deepen the country’s addiction to fossil fuels.

Adaptation and mitigation should go hand-in-hand in Nepal, so that the country is prepared for extreme weather events caused by climate change on the one hand, while reducing petroleum imports to reduce air pollution, protect public health and narrow the trade gap, on the other.

A new study has shown that Nepal’s total forest cover increased by 50% in the last 25 years — largely due to outmigration of people to the cities and overseas, as well as the success of the community forestry program. However, the government is trying to wrest back control of forests from local user groups, and infrastructure projects like Nijgad airport could reverse these gains.

This issue of Nepali Times is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news

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Mosquitoes move up mountains as the earth warms, Sonia Awale

The Third Pole is warming faster than expected, Kunda Dixit

Climate Summit leads packed UN agenda, Thalif Deen

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